Psalm 68:5-6

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

I am Stepanie Nance. My family adopted two little boys with Down Syndrome from Ukraine in 2010. I hope to educate and to inspire you. I hope to make you laugh and to make you cry.

Come along for the ride. It's a wild one!

Friday, November 2, 2012


Exciting Announcement!

Maxim has been chosen as the featured child of the month by Ten for Orphans. If you have not heard of this wonderful organization, I urge you to check it out! The concept is simply and elegant...many people giving a little big can make a BIG difference!

An eight year old boy should not look like this. We are waiting for a travel date and are nearly fully funded. Won't you share little Max with your friends and help us get over the last fundraising hurdle? Thanks!!

Friday, September 14, 2012


The Nance family is adopting again!! However, life doesn't allow for a separate adoption blog this time around. Please visit us at for a little bit of this and a little bit of that...

Also, visit our adoption auction at Lots of fun items are up for bidding. Help us FINALLY bring Maxim home to his family. Bless you!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The time has come. Actually the time is well past and I've just now realized it! This blog has served it's purpose and now it is time to move on. Please keep up with Theo, Zhen and the rest of the family over at


Friday, January 27, 2012

Help for Kalinovka

Back in 2008, when I was newly informed of the plight of disabled orphans in Ukraine, I began communicating with a Mennonite Brethren missionary couple in Zaporozhye. They had heard of a remote orphanage for disabled children in that region of Ukraine, but didn't know much about it at the time. They referred me to an American man who is descended from the family who owned the place when it was a large and prosperous Mennonite agricultural estate.

Now called Kalinovka, it is fascinating to see the old photos of the original buildings alongside newer photos of the buildings stripped of their ornamentation after the revolution. From the Happy Child Foundation story HERE:
Given land by the Russian government, German-Mennonite colonists settled here in the early 1800s. Kalinovka, itself, began as an agricultural estate named Steinbach, founded in 1813-14. Over nearly four generations, the Schmidt family made Steinbach into one of the most renowned farms in the region, encompassing some 20,000 acres of wheat and pasture land. Tsar Alexander I visited here in 1825, interested especially in its model tree-planting program. In time Steinbach also became known for its high-quality school, library, and its splendid buildings. In the decade before and after 1900, the Steinbachers sponsored retreats for teachers and ministers participating in Bible seminars. After the 1917 revolution, the family was forced to leave, and by 1923 disabled children were already occupying the main buildings.
Much work has been done in this facility over the past few years. One encouraging development includes a remodeled family type home on the property for several of the older boys. Another great sign of progress is that a young boy with Down Syndrome was very recently adopted from Kalinovka!

Much is yet to be done. My friend Gretchen is working with an organization in Chicago to ship some much needed supplies to Kalinovka in the next TWO WEEKS! Please visit her blog HERE if you want to know how you can help. There is a list of items and contact information posted there.

It is heartwarming to know that someone, somewhere, does indeed care about these children who are living in such difficult circumstances. I always imagined that I would be able to help them one day. Perhaps we can do that together now, with some help from Gretchen and her friends.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Handling disappointment...or not so much.

I'm having a hard time with this:

Love those crib slats? How about the fact that this child's diaper is completely soaked? That this child won't be getting out of this bed today?

I just returned from Ukraine. Well, I've been home about a week. It takes me that long to get over the jet lag and process the whole experience. Add in some doctor appointments and a holiday and it seems to take forever to get back to normal.

You can read about the trip over at Project TLC. I just wanted to share my personal feelings here about what I experienced.

Even though it was plain to me that God had been very busy planning all sorts of wonderful moments for us to experience and inroads to make, the disappointments of the trip are weighing heavily on me. I know that God is working in these dark places, even we are not there, even when we are not thinking of them. He's very much in control.

So why doesn't He just fix things for these children? What is the purpose of it all?

Please don't forget the children living lives of quiet brutality in Eastern European orphanages. They are hidden treasure.

"Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” Luke 9:48

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My friend Shelly

When you come here you get what I'm thinking about today. I'm not one to work on a blog post for more than a few hours, which is probably why the quality of my writing isn't all that great. I try to go back and work on my drafts, but I lose my train of thought and everything I wrote before sounds dumb, which is also why I rarely go back and read stuff I wrote awhile back!

Today I'm thinking about a very special family. A very special adopting family. This could be long!

I was cyber-introduced (meaning we have yet to meet in real life!) to Shelly after she and her husband adopted three, yes THREE!, children from Ukraine in 2010.

I had just finished a successful (praise God!) fundraiser for a little girl named Tori, when a very large donation was made to Tori's adoption grant fund. I was very surprised when Shelly and her family committed to adopting Tori, considering they had just adopted Hudson, Owen, and Evelyn earlier in the year.

Since Tori had lived at Yolochka (where Theo and Zhen lived) for her first four years, she was very special to me. Truthfully, all the Ukrainian orphans really tug on my heartstrings, but the ones from that particular baby house shatter me.

Shelly asked me about the other children I met at Yolochka. I told her about a little girl named Anastasiya who was utterly ignored. She would sit (sitting is really too nice a word) slumped over in a highchair for hours on end. Every.Single.Day.

Well, that was that, Shelly and her family agreed to adopt Anastasiya in addition to Tori! It always warms my heart when a family chooses the overlooked children, the funny looking ones, the delayed ones, the truly sick ones, the ones that no other family wants to chance. But those are the sort of people Shelly and her husband Brian are. They look past the outward appearance. They look at the unwanted and unloved children through the eyes of their creator. And they love them fiercely.

So you have probably guessed by now that Tori and Anastasiya were both adopted by Shelly and Brian early in 2011 and renamed Reagan and....CARRINGTON!! Yes, THE Carrington!

Over the past year, Shelly and I have become close friends. We take turns holding each other up. We understand each other. I can call her when I have a child eating Styrofoam, or mulch, or...poop!

Shelly knows the particular sort of despair that I suffer concerning the orphans of Ukraine. She has been there, done that. She gave me the courage to go ahead with Project TLC when I wasn't sure if I had anything to offer.

Now Shelly and Brian are adopting again. Yes!! WOW!! They were moved by the story of another bunch of very neglected children in another orphanage in Eastern Europe. Isn't that just amazing?

I just want to publicly thank Shelly for being such a wonderful and faithful friend to me. And I would love for you to visit her NEW ADOPTION BLOG and give her some bloggy love (that's bloggy speak for kind words and encouragement). Oh my stars! Aren't they a beautiful family?

While you are there, if you are so moved, you may want to throw a 10-spot into the pot to help Shelly and Brian with their adoption expenses. You could be chosen to receive an Apple 32GB iPad2 that they will be giving away later this month.

This sweet family is lovingly raising 7, soon to be 9, children, some with significant medical and therapeutic needs. They are making a life long commitment, financial and otherwise, to these children. I believe that donating to this cause is money well spent. It is a labor of love for them. I'm proud to chip in to assist with their adoption expenses. And I'm proud to ask you to consider doing the same.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I will not forget you.

Did you know that November is Adoption Awareness month? After my spectacular Down Syndrome awareness blog challenge failure, I will not be making any pledges this month.

But, I do want to bring awareness to some special children who need families and some special families who are working toward adoption.

Today is the perfect day to share my little lovey boy, Maxim!

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
Isaiah 49:15

Here is what a friend had to say about him just last week:
Maxim is one of the sweetest little boys I've ever met. He pats my arm in the most adorable, gentle way, and it absolutely melts my heart! He is now walking with very minimal assistance, and crawls faster than any other child I've ever met. He is a smart boy, and will follow directions (for example, come over to the carpet). He has an amazing attention span, and will bounce a ball back and forth with me for at least 20 minutes straight. He has the most wonderful laugh, and is a very joyful little guy! He has so much potential, someone please choose Maxim!!
Maxim has a large grant with the Reece's Rainbow adoption grant organization. It will go a long way toward helping offset the cost of his adoption. And, I'm not the only person who is in love with Maxim. Melissa over at has met and played with Maxim!!

Did you know that Maxim was on my short list? I really wanted to adopt that cute little guy but he had no grant money at the time and I was really worried about raising funds. Oh, so little faith! As it turned out, Theo really needed urgent medical care, so I can't say that we made a mistake. It just hurts to know that Maxim is still waiting.

There is another little boy with Down Syndrome living in the same institution as Maxim. This little boy needs out quickly. I fear that he...well, I fear for his health.

These two boys could be adopted together! And did you know that many Ukrainian adoption facilitators do not charge extra to adopt an additional child? That's right! I can put you in touch with some very friendly and very experienced professionals who will assist you in adopting both children with no extra charge for the second child.

Happy Adoption Awareness month! Tomorrow I'll share about a very special adopting family!

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